It isn't typical for the Livingston City Council Chambers to be filled on a Wednesday morning -- but they were.
Much of the crowd was comprised of police officers there to see five reserve officers sworn in.
City Clerk Donna Barnes swore in Luis Padilla, Rajinder Singh, Wapinder Kang, Gursharan Kang and Brian Wiley to applause from family, friends and city officials.
The department has never had a reserve officer program before, and Chief Doug Dunford plans to expand it soon by possibly bringing in four more reserves, he said.
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The program is useful for the city and the reserve officers, Dunford said. It allows the officers to gain experience in the field and has virtually no impact on the city budget, despite increasing public safety. The reserve positions are unpaid.
"We're giving them a foot in the door to start their careers," he said.
By implementing the program, the department increased its number of officers to 25 from 20, Dunford said. The officers will work part-time, a minimum of 10 hours a month, but will improve both police and public safety.
Out of 60 applications received in recent months, the department narrowed them down to the most qualified, he said.
As another benefit, there could be a shorter learning curve if the department needs a full-time officer down the road, Dunford added. The reserves would have the benefit of experience, and the department would have the advantage of knowing how the officer works before making a hire.
Just before the introduction of the reserve officers, Dunford expressed his faith in them, saying that they all have the potential to be in a position like his someday.
Three of the recruits speak Punjabi and two speak Spanish. Many Livingston residents speak a second language.
Knowing various languages and possessing a broad cultural awareness is a valuable asset to the department, said City Manager Richard Warne.
"They have the language skills and the knowledge of the culture to be more effective," he said.
Warne commended Dunford for finding an innovative way to improve city services when money's tight.
"During these difficult times, he's leveraging the resources to provide even higher levels of services than we've provided in the past," Warne said. "All the way around, this is a very positive thing. We have an excellent police department."
Livingston's neighbor to the south also hosts some fresh faces in the police department.
Atwater swore in two full-time officers, Matthew Vierra and Jason Da Silva, during Monday's City Council meeting.
As in Livingston, the new positions aren't expected to have much impact on the budget.
In fact, they may help it.
Because of high overtime the department's had to take -- $1,337,574.83 worth during the past four years, according to city records -- hiring the officers could cut down on costs.
Hiring the two officers not only shows the city's commitment to safety, it also displays the city's ability to keep people working, said Mayor Joan Faul. During a time when many people are being laid off, Atwater is hiring.
In addition to the two full-time officers, the Atwater Police Department also plans to bring in two reserve officers, possibly within the next month, said Chief Richard Hawthorne. The additions will only complement an already experienced department.
"We hired two fine young men," he said of Vierra and Da Silva. "They'll be a credit to the department and community."
Police services account for the majority of the Livingston and Atwater general funds. Because of the tight economy, both departments plan to keep searching for inventive ways to improve service.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or email@example.com.